Adventures in Internet Radio!


Driving to Maine from New Jersey is a looooong drive. Even breaking it up with a stop in Boston for a few days, we quickly ran through an audiobook and couldn’t find a decent radio station on the drive. Luckily, I had my Droid handy, and we gave Pandora and Slacker a spin.

Slacker…I want to like it, I really do. But on the free version, it doesn’t seem to hold onto a music stream well. It gets four or five songs in and then seems to be stuck, requiring the app to be exited and restarted. It’s a huge pain, especially while driving. If it were the best option available, I’d probably pay for the premium version and cache the stations I like, but it’s not the only game in town. I couldn’t get it working well for me in New Jersey, so I didn’t bother to test it when I was up in New England.

Pandora, the other program I used, was a champ. I fired it up somewhere around the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, and it did not skip or freeze once. The sound quality was awesome, and even switching from 3G to 1xRTT didn’t even phase it. Granted, we didn’t go much farther north than Portland, but moving between towns and cell towers without a stutter or drop in music was very impressive.

The only downside I discovered was that plugging the charger and my auxiliary cable in simultaneously made for a disturbing and high pitched noise. Porter (my dog) especially did not like it, as he was napping happily in the backseat, and BOLTED awake at the sound. Luckily, Pandora didn’t take as big a bite out of my battery as I feared, so it wasn’t an immediate problem.

I have to admit, while I’ve used internet radio on and off, I always thought it would be a poor choice for long drives. Now I know I don’t need to panic about keeping every mp3 in my collection on my microSD card, or surf through static and top 40 stations looking for something halfway decent! Are there other options I should try? Do you suggest giving Slacker another shot, or is Pandora your favorite too? Share your thoughts below!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

4 Comments on "Adventures in Internet Radio!"

  1. Christopher Gavula | March 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm |

    Just a few thoughts:

    I happen to be a fan of WunderRadio – the thousands of station choices worldwide is amazing! I have found Pandora and slacker don’t quite give me the listening variety I’d like – they want to stick me in a style or genre (which is switchable), and where that might be enough to replace much of your MP3 collection, it can’t really serve well as a radio replacement. Why? Because you don’t have the ability to get a live news feed and talk services aren’t really supported either. So I find myself wanting more than that kind of programming provides. With WunderRadio I can click into any of thousands of stations and pick up music, news, weather, whatever in locations around the world – for me that’s much more interesting. In reality, though, I usually do find myself using a combination of the Pandora and WunderRadio. So maybe a combination of apps is in order?

    Some words of caution, however – I found the iPhone version of WunderRadio to be MUCH more stable than it’s WM counterpart (which cost a lot more and hung up regularly). Also note that with any of these things, if you lose your cell data connection (which does happen!) you will lose the service of course, so having a backup plan (like carrying SOME MP3s) is still probably a good idea!

  2. Hmm…wunderradio sounds awesome, but isn’t in the android marketplace. 🙁

  3. Christopher Gavula | March 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm |

    I have to believe that they will release it at some point – it’s too big a potential market to ignore!

  4. Christopher Gavula | March 22, 2010 at 2:05 pm |

    Actually – I should have done my research before I wrote. It IS, in fact coming to Android – it is currently available for iPhone, Windows Mobile (Windows Phone), and Blackberry – and Android appears to be in testing now.

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